CLEMSON — A renowned entomologist who has spent much of his career using advanced DNA techniques to document the diversity and inform the conservation of beetles will become Clemson’s first John C. and Suzanne E. Morse Endowed Chair in Arthropod Biodiversity.
Michael S. Caterino will join the Clemson faculty in March when he begins leading a research program focused on mapping arthropod species diversity in the Southeast and understanding how it may affect the everyday lives of South Carolina citizens.
Caterino will also direct the Clemson University Arthropod Collection, advise policymakers and stakeholders on managing the state’s biodiversity resources for the benefit of South Carolinians, and teach undergraduate and graduate-level courses in arthropod systematics and biodiversity.
“Between Clemson’s demonstrated dedication to improving stewardship of South Carolina’s natural resources and its location in one of the most biologically diverse regions in the temperate world, I can’t imagine a better place to establish a center for research into how arthropod biodiversity interfaces with human well-being and prosperity,” Caterino said.
Caterino has spent the last 12 years as the Schlinger Foundation Chair of Entomology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, where he led a vigorous research group focused on discovering new beetle species and examining the genetic relationship among their populations.
He has described more than 400 new species of beetles and published extensively in such scholarly journals as Evolution, Annals of the Entomological Society of America, Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society and Molecular Ecology.
Prior to his work at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, he served as postdoctoral researcher at the Natural History Museum in London and at the University of California Berkeley, where he earned his Ph.D. in entomology.
He is considered the world’s foremost expert in a group of beetles called Histeridae, of which there are numerous species in the southeastern U.S.
The John C. and Suzanne E. Morse Endowed Chair in Arthropod Biodiversity was endowed by retired Clemson entomology professor John Morse and his wife, Suzanne. The Morses’ contributions have been matched 4-to-1 by the W.C. English Foundation, established in 1966 by Suzanne’s father.
“In establishing the endowment, it was our hope that we could give something back to a place that has given us so much,” John Morse said. “But our purpose also was to recruit a leading scholar to teach, conduct research, inform land managers and decision-makers and discover and manage economically detrimental effects of arthropod species, as well as beneficial products and services they can provide. We believe Dr. Caterino is the man for the job.”
The Morse Chair will reside in Clemson’s School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences (SAFES) in the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences (CAFLS).
Tom Scott, dean of the college, said, “When they established the Morse Chair, John and Suzanne gave a gift not only to Clemson but to the citizens of South Carolina for generations to come by expanding our capacity to discover potentially life-changing life forms. We are confident that Dr. Caterino will fulfill the promise of John and Suzanne’s gift.”